The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 31 of 210
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whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were
created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
And He is the Head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the
dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence" (Col. 1: 14-18).
We notice that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. Jesus said that no man
has seen the Father (John 6: 46). Philip asked the Lord on another occasion, "Shew us
the Father and it sufficeth us" (John 14: 8), and in reply our Lord said that he that had
seen the Lord had seen the Father. Another reference is in John 1: 18 which reads:
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of
the Father, He hath declared Him."
Although we cannot see the invisible God, we can rejoice that He sent His Son, and as
we look on Him, we see the Father. God loved us so much that He sent His only
begotten Son for our salvation. So we see the love of God in the life and death of His
Son, Jesus Christ. But as we read Col. 1: 15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the
firstborn of every creature", we find a problem. The meaning of "firstborn" needs some
explanation. At first we might think it means that Christ was the first to be created.
Some words change their meaning in the course of time, and we therefore follow the
example of Stuart Allen by quoting from The Deity of Christ by Professor F. F. Bruce and
Dr. W. J. Martin:
"The word `firstborn' had long since ceased to be used exclusively in its literal sense,
just as `prime' (from the Latin primus=first) with us. The Prime Minister is not the first
minister we have had, he is the most pre-eminent. A man in his `prime' of life has long
since left the first part of his life behind. Similarly, `firstborn' came to denote not priority
in time, but pre-eminence in rank" (Letters From Prison, page 127, by Stuart Allen).
Thus the conclusion is that firstborn does not refer to time, but indicates the rank or
primacy. Christ is not `downgraded' to the level of a created being, but He is entitled to
the high rank that should be accorded to the one Who created all things.
This word "firstborn occurs twice: "The firstborn of all creation" (Col. 1: 15). "The
firstborn from the dead" (18).
In verse 18 we pass from Christ's rank as first in the material world (first in creation)
to His rank as first in the spiritual realm, the new creation. He was the firstfruits of them
that slept (I Cor. 15: 20). Thus He was the first in resurrection. In Col. 1: 18 we also
have the title "the beginning". We find this in Rev. 21: 6 (also 22: 13). He that sat
upon the throne said "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end". These titles
confirm the Deity of Christ. He is the Head of the body, the church.
In Col. 1: 16 there is another point which should not be overlooked. "All things were
created by Him and for Him." We see His supreme position, for He is not only the
Creator, but in the act of creation He had an object or goal, and all things relate to this
goal. Then in verse 17, "He is before all things and by Him all things consist". It is true
that He was before all things, but what is written is that He is before all things, indicating
His status, rather than the timing of events. By Him all things consist or held together.